The University of Wisconsin had one of the most impressive athletic semesters in school history in fall 2019. Behind strong performances in sports ranging from football to volleyball, the Badgers impressed on the field, court, ice, mat and track. Let’s take a look at the semester that was in UW sports, starting with the teams whose seasons are over.
Men’s Cross Country:
The men’s cross country season was up to expectations entering the season. With the team coming off a top 10 finish in the NCAA Championships last season, they were expected to repeat with a similar performance this season.
The team did lose several seniors from last season, but the team fought through adversity and finished near the top of each tournament they participated in. They then moved on to take first place at the Big Ten Championships before finishing 18th nationally at the NCAA Championships.
Behind seniors Oliver Hoare and Olin Hacker, the team met expectations from the moment the season started back in September.
Women’s Cross Country:
Like the men’s team, the women’s cross country squad performed well on the big stage in November.
Led by seniors Alicia Monson, Amy Davis and Alissa Niggemann, the Badgers finished in seventh place at the NCAA Championships. Monson finished second overall, UW’s highest individual finisher since 2014.
The Badgers also had two sophomores and two freshmen run at the tournament, so expect a young core to take over for the senior trio next season.
Unlike many of the other fall sports that Wisconsin participates in, the men’s soccer team underperformed mightily in 2019.
Despite finishing with a 6-2 record in Big Ten play and a win in the Big Ten Tournament last season, the team didn’t record a victory against Big Ten competition until their last game of the regular season.
With several seniors departing after this season, don’t be surprised if Wisconsin struggles again next year before taking a step forward in 2021.
The women’s soccer team made the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight year, marking the first such streak in school history. Led by senior Dani Rhodes and goalie Jordyn Bloomer, the team made it all the way to the Sweet 16 in the tournament.
Ranked in the top 10 at season’s end, the Badgers impressed en route to a Big Ten Championship.
Expect some regression with the loss of key seniors like Rhodes, but Wisconsin should return to the NCAA Tournament again next year.
While the men’s basketball season has only endured a month’s worth of games thus far, it’s clear that this Wisconsin team is one of the weakest in several years.
Standing at just 5-4 on the season, the team has struggled offensively despite carrying a roster loaded with players who are capable of shooting, including juniors D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison.
Wisconsin will need to figure out their shooting struggles and turnover troubles as they get deeper in their schedule, when they’ll be faced with top Big Ten teams like The Ohio State University, Michigan State, Maryland and Michigan.
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The women’s basketball team has performed to expectations through just over a month of their schedule, standing at 5-3 as of Dec. 7.
Led by sophomore Imani Lewis, the team has yet to lose a home game and even came within four points of winning against ranked Arkansas. Lewis is leading the team with 13.6 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game.
If Wisconsin is able to keep playing up to par with their opponents, they may finally earn an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, an achievement they haven’t attained since the 2009-10 season.
In previous years, the men’s hockey team has underperformed greatly, failing to reach the NCAA Tournament since the 2013-2014 season.
This season, however, it looks like Wisconsin may make a return. Despite having a losing record to this point, the Badgers have held their own against an extremely tough schedule, featuring several top 10 opponents.
Led by freshman phenom Cole Caufield, the Badgers will look to turn their record around in Big Ten play in order to remain in position for a tournament appearance.
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Women’s hockey has gone just as anyone would have expected considering their dominance over the last two decades, specifically under Head Coach Mark Johnson.
Coming off an NCAA Championship season last year, the No. 1 Badgers have gone 18-1-1 through a little over two months of play, with their lone loss coming to No. 2 Minnesota.
Led by the trio of Abby Roque, Sophie Shirley and Daryl Watts, the Badgers are again performing at a high level as they gear up for another NCAA Tournament run.
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The football team has had what can be described as a rollercoaster season, but it’s safe to say it has been successful considering last season’s struggles.
Despite losing to Illinois and OSU in October, the team finished the regular season at 10-2, including wins late in the season to ranked teams in Iowa and Minnesota to win the Big Ten West.
Following another loss to OSU over the weekend in the Big Ten Championship, the Badgers will be heading to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl, where they’ll be matched up with the Oregon Ducks, the 2019 Pac-12 Champion.
The UW volleyball team turned their season around in a major way following a 4-4 start. While Wisconsin struggled early in the season to win against high-quality opponents, they flipped the trend during Big Ten play.
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Finishing with an 18-2 record in Big Ten play, the Badgers earned the No. 4 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, hosting several games in their corner of the bracket.
Led by two-time All American Dana Rettke and a supporting cast that improved with age, Wisconsin had one of their most impressive regular seasons to date, and they’ll look to continue that performance through the NCAA Tournament.